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Harrisonburg Fire Department teams up with Rockingham/Harrisonburg SPCA to promote heat safety

“It doesn’t take but ten minutes for the temperature to almost increase by almost 20 degrees.”
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 2:07 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The Harrisonburg Fire Department has recently teamed up with the Rockingham/Harrisonburg SPCA for multiple projects, such as safety with pets in the heat and common heat-related dangers.

“When people think about heatstroke awareness, they always go to not leaving children in the car, which of course we would always want to promote that as well. But we also want to promote not leaving pets in the car either,” Harrisonburg Fire Department’s Public Education Officer Erin Stehle said.

According to Stehle, it is very common in the summer for people to see young children and animals locked in cars.

“It doesn’t take but 10 minutes for the temperature to almost increase by almost 20 degrees,” Stehle said.

While it is dangerous for anyone to be left in a hot car, animals cannot cool themselves down like humans can.

“Pets do over-heat faster than humans do, they have a fur coat on them, so they can’t sweat the way we can,” SPCA’s Executive Director, Huck Nawaz said, and some animals can be at a higher risk of heat-related illness than others. “If they’ve got a shorter snout on them, they can’t pant as well as Dixie here can, so they’re going to overheat even faster.”

According to Nawaz, signs of heat exhaustion in pets can be similar to those in humans, with heavy breathing and lethargy, but in severe cases, animal’s symptoms can escalate quickly.

“Signs of heatstroke would be bloody diarrhea and vomiting, so if they get to that point you’ve got to get them over to the emergency vet,” Nawaz said.

Stehle suggests you should make reminders for yourself to keep from forgetting children or pets in the back seat, and if you ever come across a child or animal locked in a hot car, you should act fast.

“Don’t hesitate, call 911, you’re doing the right thing,” Stehle said.

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